The God of Peace

Lord, before you give me what I want, make me who you want me to be.
Father, show me not your plan, but yourself.
"Have you been asking God what He is going to do? He will never tell you. God does not tell you what He is going to do; He reveals to you Who He is." -Oswald Chambers
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" Romans 8:15
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-9 (emphasis mine)

These are just a few of the prayers, quotes and verses that I prayed over the past year as I went through a season of intense anxiety. If you've ever struggled (or are currently struggling) with anxiety, I am truly sorry, and I get it, friend. If you never have, I pray that you never do, because it is one of the most uncontrollable, difficult seasons I've ever walked through.

About four months ago I found myself on the bathroom floor, crying uncontrollably as my heart raced, hyperventilating and coughing so much that I passed out. I woke up, threw up, and gave up. I prayed on that floor, "Lord. Rescue me. I don't know what's going on. But this is not right. I need you. Lord, I need you more than ever. Please. Help."

I had spent the previous fourteen months or so dealing with panic attacks, sleepless nights, migraines, depression, and a heart that was so weary and exhausted I physically did not know how to move forward. I was going through the motions with a sad smile on my face. But inside, my heart was smashed and my soul was broken and my body was physically worn out. If you've never had anxiety attack you, where you cannot catch your breath and no amount of rationalizing or reasoning can stop the flood of panic that's crashing in on you, I can assure you it's no walk in the park. Even on the good days where I felt a bit more like myself, I was constantly waiting for the moment it would all come crumbling down. This is no way to live!

I've been a daughter of God for twenty-one years. I firmly believe the truth of Scripture and I have been redeemed and rescued from my sin, by the grace and mercy of my Savior. I have walked with Jesus, prayed to God, trusted my life to the Lord, and yet I found myself so deep in a pit that I started to believe there was no way out - that this was my plot in life and I may never see the sunshine and good days again.

Your struggle in life may be the exact same - or it may look entirely different. Maybe you don't endure panic attacks and have never felt the sorrow of depression, but maybe you live in doubt, paralyzed by the unknown, afraid of tomorrow. Maybe you're physically sick, battling cancer or an eating disorder or a mental illness. Maybe you aren't sick, but you're struggling. Maybe you carry emotional pain and memories that haunt you from your childhood, your relationships, or your yesterday. Maybe you're just plain exhausted. I don't know where each of you are today, but I want you to know something. God sees you. God knows you. God holds you when you just can't carry on. (Job 28:24, Psalm 33:13-15, Isaiah 41:13).

Just like He heard me on the bathroom floor, I believe that our God has heard the fear and the pain of your heart, and I believe that He is able to help you along, out of the pit, and bring you into new life. (2 Corinthians 5:17) A life that may still endure brokenness, but a life that also experiences abundant freedom and hope in the God of peace. (John 10:10)

The peace of God passes all understanding. The peace of God guards your mind. The peace of God guards your heart. (Philippians 4:4-7) But even more than this, the God of peace is with you. (Philippians 4:9) The God of peace goes before you. (Deuteronomy 31:8) The God of peace will never leave you. Never forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6) You are an adopted, loved, daughter of this God who is no longer a slave to fear (Romans 8:15).

When we seek the deliverance more than we seek the Deliverer, it's easy to feel alone and forgotten if we don't hear the answer we are searching for fervently. Life is not always going to be peaceful circumstantially - we can count on that (John 16:33). We will endure storms and trials (James 1:2-5, 1 Peter 1:6-7). But through it all, God is still God.

I loved the footnote in my Bible for Psalm 46:1; the verse "God is a very present help in trouble" can also be translated "God's help in trouble is well-proven". He is always, always, one-hundred-percent, fully faithful. God does not change like the shifting shadows, (James 1:17) so if He's been faithful in the past, we know He will be faithful today and with our tomorrow. (Malachi 3:6)

I rejoice that the Lord carried me out of the pit, that He restored the joy of my salvation, and that He provided Himself through my weakness. He heard my cries. His strength and love literally rescued me and He changed the song of my heart. I know Him more intimately today than I did two years ago. But it makes me ask the question: What if I had spent all that time in the trial truly seeking God who makes the peace, more than I was begging for the peace He could provide? What if I had spent those days seeking the face of my Deliverer more than deliverance from my circumstance?

See they are two different things. The peace of God is graciously given to us, poured out by the Spirit, a fruit that comes from abiding with God. (Galatians 5:22). But we are not removed from the situation nine times out of ten. So while we are in the midst of living our life, we get to experience the benefits of the peace He affords. But for God to be with us - this changes things. (Matthew 28:20, Joshua 1:9). The God of peace is still God, still good and faithful and holy, even when we aren't experiencing peace in our situation. He is the constant, unchanging One, and He goes before us and with us when we are at rock bottom. (Exodus 14:14) That's the true prize, friends. (Philippians 3:8)

Scripture tells us in Romans 8 when we read on in verses 16-17, "The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs - heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him."

Friends, don't miss that challenge. 1 Peter 4:12-14 tells us to rejoice when we share in Christ's suffering and not to be surprised when we face trials. I love how he puts it: "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you." And yet, aren't we so often surprised when we find ourselves knee-deep in the pit? When we take hold of this challenge, to rejoice in the trial, our heart can begin to rest in the God of peace.

When we start to expect the unexpected and see it as a chance to truly know our heavenly Father, more than we seek the deliverance He can provide, we grow in our relationship with our Savior. Hosea 6:3 challenges us to "press on to know the Lord" - that in seeing our faithful God show up, we get to know Him more clearly.

Friends, I pray that in your exact season of life today, the peace of God would guard your heart. But more than anything, I pray that you would know and trust the good God of peace who loves you more than you can ever fully know.

rejoicing in His love,

rachael